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LOVE IS THE DEVIL

SYNOPSIS:
The year is 1971 and controversial British artist Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi) is welcomed as the ‘greatest living painter’ by officials and the press at the Grand Palais in Paris. As the ceremony takes place, George Dyer (Daniel Craig), Bacon’s model and lover of seven years, takes a cocktail of pills and alcohol in their hotel room. Slumping into blackness, Dyer recalls the fateful day in 1964 when he attempts to burgle Bacon’s house, but meets Bacon instead. From then on his life takes on an entirely different course. A powerful and dangerous relationship develops between the flamboyant artist and the man who becomes his lover and the model for some of his most intense and celebrated paintings.

"Great painter or no, Francis Bacon was an unpalatable, ill-mannered man, selfish, arrogant and somewhat self-loathing. His homosexuality was topped up with sado-masochism and whatever redeeming qualities he may have possessed, he managed to keep them a total secret. Derek Jacobi gives an absolutely stunning portrait of the man. Director John Maybury – and DoP John Mathieson - create some genuinely inventive images, as well as the interesting cinematic treatment. But while it is all admirable, even brilliant filmmaking, it tends to create an emotional chasm between the film and the audience. Neither Bacon nor Dyer rouse our empathy; there is nothing in their dogged relationship that could be described as loving, caring or emotionally rewarding; we are denied seeing Bacon’s work (forbidden by his estate), which may have helped compensate us for his vile personality. It is, of course, a fascinating story of human relationships and human nature. Considering the inbuilt drawbacks, the film is an artistic triumph – if not a mainstream crowd pleaser."
Andrew L. Urban

"Visually complex and creatively unsettling, Love is the Devil is a canvas on which Francis Bacon’s tortured soul is put on display. There is nothing glossy about the story on screen – Bacon’s perverse life and twisted mind are portrayed no holds barred; the outward and inward personality of this complex artist scrutinised. John Maybury has coloured the entire film with innovative direction; the distorted images working effectively in this harsh look at the man behind the art. Derek Jacobi gives a performance that grips the jugular and stops the blood flow. It’s a harsh portrayal; the callousness of the man blasts through the air like a tornado and leaves a sting. Love is the Devil is a visual film; it doesn’t connect emotionally but is essentially an observation of the bizzare and shocking life of an artist whose reputation overwhelmingly rests higher than his personal life. For me, I would have connected more had the emotional charge been greater."
Louise Keller

"John Maybury isn't a director. He's a filmmaker and an artist. His earliest efforts were shot on Super-8 at art school, before Derek Jarman showed him "what grown-up filmmaking was all about". So it's a shame that having reached the dizzy heights of featuredom, this talented individual should have made such an unsatisfactory job of this Study For A Portrait Of Francis Bacon. There's no denying that Maybury is an imagist of considerable vision and control. His use of distorting lenses, abrupt, angular close-ups, reflective surfaces and split-screen devices to convey both the couple's dislocated world and the style of Bacon's painting is bold and inspired, and so visually striking. Yet dramatically the film is less successful. Jacobi gives a remarkable physical impersonation and Craig is a model of bemused despair. But the vignette structure prevents the story gaining momentum, while the dialogue is far too stylised. As an exhibit, this is easy to admire, but it's too self-conscious to be captivating cinema. In all, though admirable, Love is the Devil is a somewhat pretentious work, seemingly intellectual but not really. It has limited appeal due to its fragmented structure and somewhat abrasive material. Fans of the artist may find it fascinating; for the rest of us mere mortals, it's an undeniable bore."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 2

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See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
SIR DEREK JACOBI

LOVE IS THE DEVIL (MA)
(UK)

CAST: Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, Tilda Swinton, Anne Lambton, Adrian Scarborough, Karl Johnson, Annabel Brooks, Richard Newbold

DIRECTOR: John Maybury

PRODUCER: Chiara Menage

SCRIPT: John Maybury

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson

EDITOR: Daniel Goddard

MUSIC: Ryuichi Sakamoto

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan Macdonald

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 26, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: June 14, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren Entertainment

RRP: $29.95 (March 13, 2000)







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